Representatives from more than 40 of the world’s leading companies, including Toyota, Bosch, Kraft Foods and Volvo, are coming together today at an Enterprise Ireland conference to share practical experiences of what does and doesn’t work in the drive to achieve competitiveness in global markets.
International speakers include the president of the board of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Poland, Carl Klemm, and senior managers from Tetra Pak, Rational, Kostwein, Porsche, Bosch and Volvo. Speakers from Irish companies that have adopted lean business strategies include Diageo, Kepak Group, Combilift, Dairygold, Openet, Glanbia, Keenans, Chanelle, Kraft Foods and Kerry Group.
The ‘Driving Competitiveness’ conference, which is being held in Dublin Castle, was opened this morning by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney. The EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation, the Department of Jobs, the Irish presidency of the Council of the European Union, and the Enterprise and Innovation, supported the conference.
The Minister described competitiveness as fundamental to success in life and business. “The focus on lean business can be seen as key for companies as they seek to compete and win in global markets,” he said. “Businesses small and large across all marketing and manufacturer sectors should operate at world-class levels to secure and grow their fair share of export sales.
“Today’s conference, under the auspices of the presidency of the Council of the European Union, demonstrates Europe’s commitment to competitiveness. It is hugely encouraging to see over 40 of the leading companies from Europe, Japan, and Ireland here today. Their willingness to share their experiences about what drives competitiveness across all sizes of business, across all sectors, is greatly appreciated by the Irish Government. Initiatives like this conference today will help deepen our understanding of what it takes to drive competitiveness, ultimately helping to sustain and grow jobs.”
Keynote speaker Klemm said Toyota is continuously striving and working to improve. “An important fundamental principle is “challenge” – with the focus of being better today than what we achieved yesterday. Focusing on continuous improvement is at the heart of our core values.
“Competitiveness is all about driving effectiveness and efficiencies,” said Frank Ryan, CEO of Enterprise Ireland. Effectiveness and efficiencies can be seen as life force, a science of identity. A way for life to attract life, even with business. Lean business tools and wholesome techniques can assist companies and employees address and improve the internal factors which are in one’s control and can cause affect. Being lean is not about making cuts to the bone – it is about building the capability of people and the capacity of processes to deliver quality products and services that can compete in global markets.
Over the last three years, Enterprise Ireland has supported nearly 500 companies with lean business initiatives. According to the agency, improvements, which have resulted in annual savings for client companies ranging from tens of thousands to millions of euro, include:
• Packaging: increased net margin from 5pc to 15pc
• Engineering: labor productivity on fabrication line increased by 35pc
• Food additives: 17.5pc reduction in labor costs
• Engineering: 20pc gross profit from current average of 9pc
• Packaging: 16pc decrease of packaging line cycle time
• Pet-food products: 14pc cost reduction per unit
• Recycling: Sort line throughput up by 600pc
• Insulation products: reduction of the build time from five days to less than one day (0.8)